Tencent has begun accepting preorders for Microsoft’s Xbox One video game console as China’s 13-year-old ban on video game consoles comes to an end in September.
Chinese consumers can use Tencent Holdings’ mobile messaging applications and JD.com to place orders for the locally made Xbox One, according to Bloomberg. As market researcher Newzoo expects China to overtake the U.S. as the world’s biggest game market by 2016 with $25 billion in revenue, it’s critical for each of the main console platform holders to establish themselves here.
The publisher and Tencent will tout the Xbox One at the ChinaJoy expo in Shanghai this week. Microsoft is using a $79 million joint venture with BesTV New Media, a unit of Shanghai Media Group, to make the consoles in China. The Chinese Internet companies have the exclusive rights to presell the Xbox One for a short time. The consoles are shipping at an unspecified date in September.
Microsoft is the game industry’s first big player to start production in the country after the Chinese government last year announced it would allow console sales in the new Shanghai free trade zone. Back in 2000, the Communist Party banned game consoles out of concern they would be bad for children. Sony has agreed to form two ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl to make PlayStation consoles in China.
Microsoft also has a deal with China Mobile, which will also sell Xbox One consoles. The Xbox One preorders on JD.com require a deposit of 499 yuan (850 renminbi), and will be available only to those who use the Chinese versions of Tencent’s WeChat and QQ mobile messaging apps. The Xbox One retails in the U.S. for $500 with the Kinect motion-sensing camera and $400 without Kinect.